Harnessing cutting-edge 3D vision for automated cucumber plant phenotyping

April 29, 2024

The world population is expected to climb to 9.7 billion in 2050. With significant soil shrinkage, it will be an immense challenge to feed them all. How can we feed this amount of people in these conditions?

Wageningen University & Research is spearheading a pilot project focused on advancing cucumber plant phenotyping with unprecedented speed and accuracy. Leveraging Photoneo’s cutting-edge MotionCam-3D Color camera, they achieve fast and high-quality scanning of plants for the creation of their digital twins with color and texture. The aim is to understand cucumber plant development and optimize crop yields.



Wageningen University & Research



In the pursuit of understanding plant development and optimizing crop yields, researchers face the challenge of accurately measuring various aspects of plant growth over time. In the case of cucumber plants, tracking parameters such as flower position, leaf size, plant height, and fruit maturation presents a complex task. In a pilot project conducted at The Netherlands Plant Eco-phenotyping Centre (NPEC), a team from the Wageningen University & Research is testing the adoption of 3D vision to create precise and accurate 3D models of cucumber plants and thus advance cucumber plant phenotyping to an unprecedented level.

Cucumber plant phenotyping with Photoneo 3D vision
Picture: Cucumber plant phenotyping with Photoneo MotionCam-3D camera



MotionCam-3D Color

To tackle the above challenge, researchers have turned to high-tech tools, using the Photoneo MotionCam-3D Color camera. By leveraging the capabilities of this advanced camera, attached to a robot moving around the plant, researchers can precisely localize and analyze individual plant parts.

Utilizing the MotionCam-3D Color, the solution meticulously captures intricate details of cucumber plants with unparalleled precision. Unlike conventional 3D scanners that need to pause for scans, MotionCam-3D can revolve around the plant and provide high-quality 3D scans even in motion, ensuring unparalleled accuracy and optimizing time efficiency.

3D scanning plants with Photoneo MotionCam-3D Color
Picture: 3D scans of cucumber plants from Photoneo MotionCa,-3D Color


From the 3D scans of plants, 3D models with texture and color are constructed using Photoneo’s 3D Instant Meshing software. This software brings a big shift to 3D model creation as it enables users to create 3D models from a continuous stream of 3D scans taken by MotionCam-3D without interruption.

The solution developed and tested by NPEC facilitates automated harvesting by allowing for unprecedented accuracy in scanning and measuring plant characteristics defined by shape, color, and texture. The camera’s scanning ability enables the creation of detailed digital twins for plant models, providing valuable insights into plant development and growth patterns.



The implementation of the Photoneo MotionCam-3D Color camera marks a significant advancement in plant phenotyping processes. By collecting detailed data on plant characteristics, researchers can gain deeper insights into plant development, leading to more informed decision-making in agricultural practices.

The ability to accurately measure and track plant growth over time holds the potential to address challenges such as labor shortages in agriculture and optimize yields in the long term. With this innovative approach, researchers are paving the way for a more prosperous and sustainable future in agriculture.

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